Brighid Deangelis ‘17, a UConn SFA Dramatic Arts student studying Technical Theater and Design with a concentration in Costume Design, attended the The United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) conference and returned with 2nd place in Costuming and 6th place Best Overall Technician in the Tech Olympics after competing against 45 other teams! We sat down with her to hear more about her trip and learn about the plethora of opportunities at the conference.
Q: Could you tell us a little bit about the conference you attended?
A: The USITT Annual Conference is the biggest technical theater conference in the nation. This year it was located in St. Louis for five days, and a group of us from the Technical Theater and Design department attended: myself, Bobby Williams, Abigail Golec, Matthew Gilbert, and Brett Calvo. The School of Fine Arts supported us in covering travel and lodging expenses, which was great.
Q: What were some of the events at the conference?
Topics such as historical accuracy in costumes and the best way to run a costume crew on a traveling tour were covered.
A: We help run the booth to promote UConn’s graduate program to students from other schools. We, as undergraduate students, are also able to talk to other school’s booths about the opportunities available at their universities and colleges. There are plenty of of booths where experts show off their work regarding technological advancements in the field of theater. For example, there’s new lighting fixtures, ways to fly people, sewing machines, and ways to create painted backdrops. There are many professional theater artists and professionals there who discuss integrating those new techniques and products into their work. There’s also a lot of panels of professionals discussing various topics – they cover every area you could think of. I went to a lot of costume discussions, where topics such as historical accuracy in costumes and the best way to run a costume crew on a traveling tour were covered. There were at least two or three talks I wanted to go to in each time slot, and there were ten time slots a day. There’s a competition called Tech Olympics at the end of the week, and it’s a fun chance to test your skills in your area. There are various challenges, and the challenge I did involved changing a person from one full costume into another in the shortest amount of time. There are penalties for being rough with the actor and making noise backstage. The wardrobe challenge is the only one out of all the Tech Olympics that involves another person, and it’s interesting because you also have to figure out the dynamic between changing the clothes of a stranger! I did well – I got second place out of forty five teams. It was really fun!
Q: What was your favorite part of the convention?
There are lights flashing, smoke going, makeup being done, new costumes, and even historical corseting.
A: I really liked seeing all the technological advancements. Here at UConn, we have three theaters and we do things at a certain level, but to see the stuff used professionally and the newest technology is so amazing. I was so overwhelmed by it because there are lights flashing, smoke going, makeup being done, new costumes, and even historical corseting. It was also really fun to talk to students about coming here. I’ve been here for four years and haven’t really thought about all the things there are to brag about at UConn. It was nice to promote our school to prospective students.
Q: What would you say were the most positive aspects of UConn you let the students from others schools know about?
A: Some of the most positive aspects I told prospective students about are the connection the Dramatic Arts department has with Connecticut Repertory Theatre. It’s a professional grade theater on campus which yields a wealth of experience for students. Also, the high caliber of faculty and staff we have here and just the general culture of the drama department where grads and undergrads get to work together as well as with guest artists.